Global News Blog
“Paris Plage,” the annual transformation of urban concrete into faux beach in Paris, was begun more than a decade ago as an experiment of equalization. The French are famous for taking off the entire month of July or August – but of course not everyone can afford such summer rituals. For those who cannot, the thinking went, why not bring the beach to them? It’s been such a hit that it’s been copied the world over.
This year, it might be more popular than ever.
We recently finished a Focus story on global vacation patterns. (The story will go up on the website on Wednesday.) For my part, as Europe correspondent, I have written about how the French, more than others in debt-stricken Europe, are planning on carrying on with their summer respite, with 62 percent saying they plan to go away, compared to an average of 54 percent in the European countries surveyed.
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But that number, while higher than the average, still represents an 8-point drop in vacation-goers from the previous year. And I suspect many of them might be heading to the Seine and nearby Parisian canals for at least part of this summer.
I’ve never been to one of these urban beaches, even after one was created in Mexico City where I lived for seven years. Frankly, nothing seemed less appealing to me: hot sun beating on trucked-in sand, in stinky summer streets, with no option for cooling off in the water. But I’ve heard so much about “Paris Plage,” I wanted to see it for myself, so the Llana family packed up and set off – preparing to catch a quick glimpse and go.
It turns out we could hardly peel ourselves away.
In deciding where exactly to head, I relied on the reporting of my Monitor predecessor in Paris, Robert Marquand, who visited not the posher, tourist-infested beachfront of the Seine but the Canal de l’Ourcq in La Villete in the 19th arrondissement. He described the gathering as “a multiethnic romp for kids, and a place where locals do tai chi and play petanque, a kind of horseshoes with heavy balls. In an expensive city, drinks are supermarket prices.”
Not interested in seeing or being seen, that seemed the place for us.
It was blisteringly hot but we found two seats under umbrellas, also shielded by palm trees, and plopped down with our two-year-old and her buckets and shovels. As she usually does, our tomboy immediately gravitated to a boy with cars, cranes, and buses.
One challenge I’ve had as a mother in Paris is how hard it is to meet other moms, even at the parks. But the vibe was far friendlier “on the beach.” Cecelia and her friend Victor immediately hit it off. He shared his fruit snacks; she her raisins. There was a breeze. His grandmother was lovely. We actually did feel like we were on vacation.
“It feels like summer,” my husband said, a lemonade in hand.
There are also boat rides, go-karts, ice-cream stands, and anything else you might find at a beach boardwalk. When it got too hot, we found a sprinkler system, which Cecelia ran back and forth through for a full 45 minutes without stop – which, as any parent knows, is better than a vacation. (She slept for 3 hours when we got home.)
These beaches are always depicted as a consolation prize for those not fortunate enough to go away. But I left feeling lucky that I live in a city where there is so much offered – whether one is going away or not. The vibe was certainly not one of runner-up.
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A roundup of global reports
Scheming servants, disinherited princesses, forged wills – these are standard elements of fantasy. But for the daughters of Sir Harinder Singh Brar, the last Maharajah (or king) of Faridkot, a small city in India, the elements are all part of a very real saga they have endured for more than two decades.
Last Thursday, a judge in Chandigarh, in the northwest state of Punjab, awarded Mr. Brar’s daughters the equivalent of $3.3 billion after ruling that a 31-year old last will and testament that placed his estate in the hands of his servants and lawyers was a forgery. The verdict ended the decades-long legal battle and made the sisters the 33rd richest in India, according to the Guardian.
According to the Hindu newspaper, Maharajah Brar’s servants and lawyers forged the will in 1982, while the maharajah was in the grips of depression following his only son’s death. Instead of awarding his assets to his family, the fraudulent will set up the Maharawal Khewaji Trust to manage Mr. Brar’s estate.
The suspicion about the will arose as the Maharaja excluded his mother Mohinder Kaur and his wife Narinder Kaur while all the servants, irrespective of their designation, and lawyers were appointed trustees. Amrit had been divested of all the powers of heiress on the grounds that she had married against the wishes of the late Maharaja. Deepinder had been appointed trust chairman on paltry salary of Rs 1,200 per month while Maheepinder Kaur was given a salary of Rs 1,000 a month.
Brar had been the ruler of Faridkot until 1947, when India gained independence from Britain, reports the Times of India. After independence, he was allowed to keep his fortune and properties.
The maharajah died in 1989 and three years later his daughter Amrit Kaur filed a suit against the trust, alleging that the will had been forged. And after 21 years, a court magistrate ruled that the will was a fraud, thereby making the trust’s claim to the estate illegal.
Instead, Brar’s two daughters, Amrit Kaur and Deepinder Kaur, were awarded the remainder of the former royal’s estate, which included several properties and palaces, jewels, and even a private aerodrome, reports the Daily Telegraph. A third daughter, Maheepinder Kaur, died in 2001.
However, according to the Times of India, the Maharawal Khewaji Trust is planning on challenging the ruling to an upper court, with Ranjit Singh, the trust’s legal counsel claiming that “The will was real and it was not forged.”
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Russian President Vladimir Putin visited Ukraine over the weekend to attend a joint commemoration marking the 1,025th anniversary of Russia's conversion to Christianity, which took place in the original Russian state centered in Kiev.
Mr. Putin used the occasion to press a far more secular and, for the Kremlin, urgent agenda. Ukraine is facing an historic choice that may determine its development for decades to come. Much of Russia's own strategic future plans also revolve around what it decides.
The Kremlin wants Ukraine to integrate economically with Russia by joining a Moscow-led customs union and then go on to become part of Putin's grand "Eurasian Union" of former-Soviet states, which would have an eastward-looking focus.
But Ukraine plans to sign a landmark association agreement with the European Union in November, which would grant it trade preferences with Europe and preclude membership in an alternative trading bloc such as Russia's customs union.
Putin arrived in Kiev Saturday, with Patriarch Kirill of the Russian Orthodox Church in tow, to attend lavish celebrations marking the day in 988 AD when Prince Vladimir of Kiev adopted Orthodox Christianity and then ordered a mass baptism of his subjects in the Dneiper River. Though the church has since fragmented, millions of Ukrainians still adhere to the Moscow-based church headed by Kirill.
But Putin's mind was clearly elsewhere.
"This day marks the unity of our peoples. We have several common questions we will be able to discuss during these days of celebrations. There will be another meeting tomorrow… where we will talk security," the Kremlin-funded English-language RT network quoted Putin as telling Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych.
Ukraine was on a pro-Western path following the 2004 Orange Revolution, but that movement was reversed after the Russian-speaking Mr. Yanukovych won a hard-fought 2010 election, in part on pledges to repair Ukraine's tattered relations with Russia.
In the months that followed Yanukovych's election, he largely succeeded in reversing the Orange Revolution and, in particular, derailed Ukraine's bid to join the Western military alliance NATO. He also sealed good ties with Moscow by extending Russia's lease on Sevastopol, headquarters of the Russian navy's Black Sea fleet, by another 25 years.
However, Yanukovych has been unable – or unwilling – to deliver Ukrainian agreement to join the customs union, whose main members are Russia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan, a step that might forever cement Ukraine into a Russian-led economic and political union of ex-Soviet countries. At the same time, he has insisted that Ukrainian cooperation with Europe shouldn't close the door to better relations with Moscow.
At a meeting with Ukrainian religious and political leaders Saturday, Putin made his best pitch for choosing the Russian path.
"Competition on global markets is very fierce today. I am sure that most of you realize that only by joining forces can we be competitive and stand a chance of winning in this tough environment. We have every reason too, to be confident that we should and can achieve this," Putin said, according to a Kremlin transcript of his remarks.
Putin argued that Ukraine was built up and industrialized within the USSR, and it still shares a considerable amount of common infrastructure with Russia. He claimed that living standards in Soviet Ukraine were even better than in some European countries, such as Italy.
"As you know, there are various integration processes underway now in the post-Soviet area.... There are facts that speak for themselves. Our bilateral trade with Ukraine fell by slightly over 18 percent in the first quarter of this year. Our trade with the customs union countries increased by 34 percent in 2011, by 11 percent, I think, in 2012, and was up by 2 or 3 percent in the first quarter of this year, despite the downturn in the global economy. We have steady growth," he said.
Putin added that Russia will respect Ukraine's choice, whatever it may be.
"Russia is really desperate, because Ukraine is the major trophy in Putin's Eurasian Union project. That's what leads Putin to pull out all the stops in the race to win this," says Sergei Strokan, a foreign affairs columnist with the Moscow daily Kommersant.
"Ukraine is trying to delay this choice as much as possible, because it wants to keep its European window open. But the Europeans have been quite tough, basically telling Ukraine that it can't sit on two chairs. Ukrainian public opinion is divided over this, but it seems that the dominant mood – at least of the younger part of the population – is for a European strategy. Trying to sit on two chairs is probably the best Yanukovych can do for Putin. But the European option is looming, and Ukraine will probably try to use it – regardless of what Putin wants," Mr. Strokan says.
Kaliningrad Oblast is a unique part of Russia. Sandwiched between Poland, Lithuania, and the Baltic Sea, the exclave is isolated from the rest of the Russian mainland, both physically and culturally. As such, Moscow has launched several disparate policies over the years to address its unique geographic and economic concerns.
There was the plan to turn Kaliningrad into the "Russian Macao": one of a small number of special legal gambling zones in the Russian Federation. But the scheme has been scuttled and Kaliningrad’s casinos have moved to Minsk in Belarus.
Then there was the ambitious effort to promote investment in the oblast with special tax incentives for businesses that chose to make Kaliningrad home. However, this mandate ends in 2016 and will not be renewed, as the business community has shown little interest.
Now, one of the latest plans looks like it has indeed benefited Kaliningrad’s residents – but to the detriment of the oblast’s business community, especially the retail sector.
A new agreement between the Russian Federation and European partners Poland and Lithuania, which took effect in 2012, allows residents of Kaliningrad to travel visa-free into the neighboring countries up to 50 kilometers (31 miles), for durations of a few days. Likewise Poles and Lithuanians can visit Kaliningrad with similar restrictions.
Travel to Poland has proven especially popular and the zone for visa-free visits has been expanded beyond its original limits by mutual agreement. Kaliningraders are enjoying brief holidays in Polish Baltic Sea resorts, weekends in the beautiful medieval city of Gdansk, and shopping sprees in Polish supermarkets and shops.
All of this great news for residents of Kaliningrad, who have been bottled up in their exclave 350 kilometers (about 220 miles) from contiguous Russia since the ascension of Poland and Lithuania to the European Union in 2004.
“I prefer to go to Gdansk or Sopot just to have fun, to eat, to walk, just to change the environment,” says Margarita Bochkova, a Kaliningrad native in her 20s. “And if I go there I might also stop by at the supermarket to buy some food we don't have in Kaliningrad yet."
"But I know lots of people who go there to shop every weekend," she says. "They are mostly families, so it is much cheaper for them to stock up on food, clothes, and items for the home there.”
Illya Dementev, a professor at Immanuel Kant Baltic Federal University in Kaliningrad sees a similar pattern but notes that Poles are barely making reciprocal journeys – instead just popping over the border for the cheaper gasoline. “Usually, Polish people come to the petrol stations, and that is all. As for us, we prefer Polish shops and cultural centers such as Gdansk, so we go there often,” he says.
Professor Dementev notes that consumer rubles flowing out of the oblast is a concern to local businesses. “As for the outflow of cash from the oblast, it is a problem. Retail businesses in Kaliningrad are very frightened by this regime because they are losing money," he says.
A Kaliningrad official put the situation succinctly. “Frankly speaking, I'm very glad to spend my money in [large department stores] IKEA and Auchan in Gdansk, for instance," he said, before asking to remain anonymous. "That’s just between us.”
Michael Amundsen is co-editor at TallinnArts.com.
The mystery over what will happen with former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden's on-again, off-again attempt to find refuge in Russia deepened Friday when the Kremlin suddenly announced that Russia's FSB security service was holding talks with representatives of the FBI about his case.
Russian President Vladimir Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov made the announcement, which was reported by Russian news agencies. He added that the Kremlin is not involved in the discussions and insisted it would not lead to Mr. Snowden's extradition to the US to face charges of espionage and theft of government property over his mass leaks of alleged NSA secrets to the global media.
Reading between the lines of Mr. Peskov's statement, it appears possible that FSB experts are explaining to their FBI counterparts what measures they will take to prevent Snowden from doing further damage to US interests if he is granted some sort of temporary asylum in Russia.
"The president has demonstrated strong resolve to prevent [Snowden from doing anything to harm the US]. I have no doubts this will be so indeed, however the situation may develop further," the independent Interfax agency quoted Peskov as saying.
Asked whether Mr. Putin's oft-repeated stance that Russia will not extradite Snowden to the US has been altered, Peskov replied: "We have never surrendered anyone and we will never do so in the future."
In recent days, US Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul has suggested in various tweets on the subject that perhaps Russia should simply "return" Snowden to the US, without calling it "extradition" – for which the US and Russia have no mutual treaty.
"The U.S. is not asking for 'extradition', but simply the return of Mr. Snowden. We have sent many people back to Russia," the official ITAR-Tass agency quoted Mr. McFaul as saying Thursday.
According to the English-language Moscow Times, US Secretary of State John Kerry told his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov at a recent meeting that the US "returned" 1,754 individuals over to Russia between 2007 to 2012 and was ready to hand over 101 more. However, the report says, Mr. Kerry was unable to supply a list of those people when pressed by the Russians.
Washington has been cranking up the pressure on Russia to turn Snowden over to face trial in the US, including a unanimous decision Thursday in the US Senate's Appropriations Committee to impose sanctions on Russia or any other country that harbors Snowden.
Another tack the US has taken is to address oft-repeated Russian concerns that Snowden might face the death penalty, or be tortured, if he is sent back to the US. It's a theme his lawyer has made much of in arguing that Snowden ought to be granted political asylum in Russia.
On Friday, US Attorney General Eric Holder released a letter sent to his Russian counterpart last Tuesday, assuring him that those claims are baseless.
"The United States will not seek the death penalty for Mr. Snowden should he return to the United States. The charges he faces do not carry that possibility, and the United States would not seek the death penalty even if Mr. Snowden were charged with additional, death penalty-eligible crimes," the letter said.
"Mr. Snowden will not be tortured. Torture is unlawful in the United States," it added.
Snowden has been stranded in the vast transit zone of Sheremetyevo airport for over a month, since arriving in Russia – uninvited, according to Russian officials – aboard a regular Aeroflot flight from Hong Kong on June 23. He apparently had an onward ticket to Cuba the next day, but failed to use it for reasons that remain completely unknown.
His presence in Sheremetyevo has deeply aggravated US-Russia relations, but also set up conflicts within Russia officialdom over how to deal with someone who is not a traditional defector and whose main supporters in Russia are human rights organizations with which the Kremlin is frequently at odds.
Snowden's Kremlin-connected lawyer, Anatoly Kucherena, appeared confident Wednesday when he arrived at Sheremetyevo with a large brown paper bag which he told reporters contained all the paperwork necessary for his client's release from the airport's transit zone, plus a fresh suit of clothing and classical Russian literature by Fyodor Dostoyevsky and Anton Chekhov to help Snowden acclimatize to his new home.
But after several hours it became clear that there was no agreement within Russia's notoriously fractious bureaucracy about letting Snowden walk free in Moscow.
"I hope that this situation will be resolved in the nearest future. This is the first time Russia is facing such a situation, and this issue of course requires time for the immigration workers," Mr. Kucherena told journalists.
Vladimir Volokh, former deputy head of the Federal Migration Service and member of the Kremlin's Public Chamber, told Interfax Friday that there was no agreement among various Russian agencies over how to treat Snowden, and he will probably have to stay put in Sheremetyevo until a decision is made.
"He could stay in Sheremetyevo until his legal status is determined. The legislator has set the timeline of up to three months but the procedure could be extended for another three So he could be in the transit area for up to six months," Mr. Volokh is quoted as saying.
Any clear decision by Putin, of course, would change that situation instantly.
Tourists seeking a shortcut to some of the great buildings of the world need look no further than Yingquan.
Yes, Yingquan, a spot on the map in southern China of which almost nobody has ever heard and which has nothing to recommend it to visitors – except its municipal headquarters.
But what a headquarters! A grand flight of steps rises to a wide portico topped by a classical pediment (tick off the Pantheon in Rome.) On either side, above a towering colonnade, grey tiled mansard roofs stretch the length of the building (saves you going to the Palace of Versailles outside Paris.) And rising above it all, a dome that could have been lifted from the US Capitol.
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Built in 2006 to the greater glory of the local Communist Party, this ostentatious piece of wedding cakery was the sort of thing the Chinese government had in mind this week when it banned the construction of any government building for the next five years.
The directive, the latest shot in President Xi Jinping’s frugality campaign, said that such buildings – and there are many grandiose palaces in the most unimportant places – have “damaged the party and government spirit and affected the image of the party and government,” according to the official Xinhua news agency.
Chinese citizens have made no secret of their outrage at the waste of public money these mansions represent. Yingquan, for example, is a district of the city of Fuyang in Anhui Province, one of the poorest in China, where the average farmer’s income is less than $100 a month.
But that hasn’t stopped self-aggrandizing local officials from building themselves the most opulent of quarters. The city of Jinan, for example, capital of the eastern province of Shandong, boasts the largest government building in Asia, not much smaller than the Pentagon.
It cost $660 million, according to Xinhua.
The central government officials who issued the directive – an unusual joint notice from the Communist Party Central Committee General Office and the State Council, the government top body – are clearly wise to the tricks of their subordinates in the boondocks.
Not only are all new buildings banned, the instruction said, but neither can officials buy property, nor can they claim renovation or redevelopment as reasons to expand their offices.
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Women in the Senate
Do women make better US senators than men? Jill Lawrence looks at that question, and the women of the Senate, in The National Journal. The 20 women of the Senate – 16 Democrats and four Republicans – may not always agree, but in an era of polarization, they demonstrate a remarkable commitment to collegiality. Nearly all say they bring collaborative problem-solving skills to the Senate.
As Ms. Lawrence chronicles, “there is plenty of evidence, in the form of deals made and bills passed, that women know how to get things done” in the Senate – by leveraging their caucus and through bipartisan, bicameral consensus-building. Now, after decades of hard-fought gains by pioneering women senators, traditional “women’s issues” (such as health and education) are mainstream, making up roughly a third of the Senate docket. And women senators lead on key committees – budget, intelligence, and defense.
Lawrence writes that “there are too few [women in the Senate], and their arrival on the scene has been too recent, to draw any conclusions” as to whether they are more effective than their male colleagues. But their personal connections and the bills they champion point to a needed cooperation missing in Congress.
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Mandela, the patriarch
In a commentary in South Africa’s Mail & Guardian newspaper, Colleen Lowe Morna, founding chief executive of the country’s Commission on Gender Equality under Nelson Mandela, writes, “If we are to learn from Mandela, we need to acknowledge that his gender legacy is chequered.”
Mr. Mandela’s journey from “old-school patriarch to a modern husband in his third marriage” – teaches about the evolution of gender equality as well as his humble commitment to personal growth. The same holds lessons for societal progress now – and for Mandela’s feuding family, struggling with what Ms. Morna sees as the consequences of patriarchy.
Among them: Mandela named his eldest grandson heir to his tribal legacy, bypassing his oldest daughter. Morna questions “whether this legacy would not have been safer in the hands of an older daughter than in those of an ill-prepared, younger grandson” who has fueled family controversy. But Morna is certain that as a good leader, Mandela “would ask us to learn from his greatness and from his human failings.”
Telling Appalachia’s story
Brooklyn film director Sean Dunne turned a three-week chronicle of drug addiction in Appalachia into a harrowing and award-winning documentary. But the backlash from residents of Oceana, W.Va., (dubbed Oxyana for the widespread abuse of the prescription painkiller Oxycontin) has called into question the journalistic veracity of the film and the logic of Mr. Dunne’s evasive response to those who question the same. But as Alec MacGillis explores in The New Republic, the issue involves more than just a cultural clash of hipsters versus hillbillies.
Residents have taken issue with Dunne’s portrayal of Oceana as “a hellscape” where, in the words of one film subject, “Ain’t nothing but junkies and hookers hanging out on the streets.” But the film has also evoked “resolute self-scrutiny” of the region’s drug problem. Frustrated residents say the addiction pandemic in Appalachia gets little attention and few resources. Mr. MacGillis wonders if documentary filmmakers should tell that broader story.
Journalists lose favor
The Pew Forum on Religious and Public Life has released its latest poll on which occupations Americans perceive as contributing to society the most. Not surprisingly, the military continues to be held in high regard (78 percent say the armed services contribute “a lot” to society’s well-being). Teachers rank second on the list of 10 professions. And lawyers rank at the bottom, close behind business executives – ironically the only group whose percentage has improved since the 2009 survey.
Americans continue to have a “middling” view of clergy (just 37 percent of Americans feel they make a big contribution to society, and still only 52 percent among regular churchgoers). But perhaps most notable, since 2009, journalists have dropped the most in public esteem, particularly among women.
The shadow war you don’t know about
War correspondent David Axe has posted an excerpt of his forthcoming book “Shadow Wars” at Medium.com – a long-form, social blogging platform. The post looks at America’s little-known “shadow war” fighting Al Qaeda-affiliated rebels in the northern jungles of the Philippines from 2001 to 2012.
All told, 600 US military and civilian personnel worked with the Filipino military over the past decade, officially only as advisers, unofficially waging a war, complete with drones and missiles (according to reports that the military denied). In February 2012, with a tip from an informant, the United States killed several key Al Qaeda leaders with an airstrike.
Philippine President Benigno Aquino saw an opportunity to extend a hand to the rebels. Perhaps foreseeing further doom, the rebels cut their alliance with Al Qaeda and joined in peace talks. “With the signing of the peace deal,” Mr. Axe explains, “America could tentatively claim victory in its Philippines shadow war.”
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As of 5 p.m. Thursday, the National Hurricane Center was reporting maximum sustained winds of 60 m.p.h. with occasionally higher gusts. The storm was moving at about 18 m.p.h. with a gradual turn to the west forecast over the next 24 hours.
Dorian is forecast to gain strength over the next 48 hours as it moves out of the Atlantic and into the warmer Caribbean waters. Tropical storm winds now extend out 60 miles from the storm's center.
At this time, there are no official coastal watches or warnings in effect.
The current National Weather Service 3-day forecast has the storm approaching the northeast coast of Puerto Rico by Sunday afternoon and wind strengthening to 70 m.p.h.
Meanwhile, meteorologists are also keeping an eye on a smaller Tropical Storm Flossie in the Pacific. Flossie currently has maximum sustained winds of 45 m.p.h. and moving at about 18 m.p.h. The storm is centered about 1,000 miles west southwest of the southern tip of Baja California.
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For months, bookmakers in Britain, where gambling is legal, have been taking bets on the details of the royal progeny, including sex and date of birth. The boy’s name was the last element to be revealed.
All three of the baby's names were among those favored by betting services. Paddy Power, a popular bookmaker, put the odds of the royal baby being named George at 7 to 4 – higher than any other name. Alexander and Louis were also among the top contenders, with odds of 9 to 1 and 12 to 1, respectively.
According to a statement released by Kensington Palace earlier today, the boy – who is now third in line to inherit the British throne – will be known as His Royal Highness Prince George of Cambridge.
Prince George was born Monday, July 22, at St. Mary’s Hospital in Paddington, west London. The world caught its first glimpse of him the day after, when his parents Prince William and Kate Middleton, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, took him home to Kensington Palace.
The announcement of the name came relatively quickly, according to The New York Times. Normally, the naming of newborn royals takes several days, if not weeks. The royal couple chose the name themselves, said royal officials.
Only hours before the name was announced, Queen Elizabeth and Prince Harry, the baby’s great grandmother and uncle, visited Kensington Palace to meet the boy for the first time, reports the Canadian Broadcasting Company. Prince George’s great grandfather, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, was not able to attend the visit, as he is recovering from surgery.
The name George has a long royal heritage, having been the name of 27 monarchs throughout world history, including six British kings. The last king of Britain to be called George was the baby’s great great grandfather, George VI, who ruled from 1936 until 1952.
The boy's other names, Alexander and Louis, also have royal heritage.
The name Alexander has been used by kings for thousands of years, beginning with the Hittites. The most famous was Alexander the Great, from Macedonia. Though Britain has never been ruled by an Alexander, there have been three King Alexanders to rule Scotland, all during medieval times.
Louis, though not a popular name for kings in Britain, has a long history of royal usage on the continent. France, Hungary, and Spain – among many others – have all had a ruler named Louis. Arguably the most famous was Louis XIV of France, also known as Louis the Great, who outlived three of his heirs. The new prince has a closer connection to the name than that though: His father Prince William's full name is William Arthur Philip Louis.
As his lawyer predicted, former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden has reportedly been granted a temporary document that will enable him to leave the legal limbo of Sheremetyevo airport's transit zone and take up residence in Moscow or any other Russian city.
Russian media outlets cited unnamed official sources as saying the Federal Migration Service has issued a special pass that will enable Mr. Snowden to clear the airport's passport control. But it could still take several hours to process, news agencies report, and so for now he remains in the airport.
According to the Kremlin-funded, English-language TV network Russia Today (RT), Snowden's lawyer Anatoly Kucherena delivered the document to him in a large "brown paper bag," which contained all the paperwork for his release and possibly a fresh suit of clothes, on Wednesday afternoon. As the Associated Press reports, he also brought his client some reading material.
[H]e told Russia's Rossiya-24 television that he has brought several books for Snowden to read, including one by Anton Chekhov and Fyodor Dostoyevsky's novel "Crime and Punishment."
The novel is about the mental anguish and moral dilemmas of a poor ex-student who kills a pawnbroker for her cash, and Kucherena said Snowden might find it interesting. But the lawyer added: "I'm not implying he's going through a similar mental anguish."
The certificate Snowden has received is a temporary pass, and Russian sources say it does not mean he will be granted permanent political asylum in Russia. But it does put an end to the ex-CIA employee's month-long airport ordeal, and also appears to foreclose any possibility that Russia might just send him packing into some jurisdiction where he could be turned over to the United States.
Speaking to RT, Mr. Kucherena said he expects Snowden to remain in Russia for the foreseeable future.
"It’s hard for me to say what his [next] actions would be," Kucherena is quoted as saying by RT.
"We must understand that security is the number one issue in his case. I think the process of adaptation will take some time. It’s an understandable process as he doesn’t know the Russian language, our customs, and our laws.... He’s planning to arrange his life here. He plans to get a job. And I think that all his further decisions will be made considering the situation he found himself in," Kucherena said.
Snowden applied for temporary asylum in Russia last week after his options for onward travel appeared to dry up amid a concerted US campaign to get him back.
Even President Vladimir Putin, who has described Snowden's presence in the airport as an unwanted diplomatic headache for Russia, acknowledged that US efforts had effectively bottled him up in Sheremetyevo, leaving Moscow with few options between extraditing him to the US – which it has steadfastly refused to do – and granting him some sort of temporary refuge.